This article is written by Munira Hussein, a Contributor Author at Startup Istanbul.
You must have by now, understood how solitary, like writing, the entrepreneurial journey is. The exciting news is that you will learn in this post that you are not as alone as you think. Why? Because Microsoft has some exciting things to offer and if you are a tech startup, this might be the beginning.
Back in the years, raising a few million dollars was a big deal but now startups are raising up to about a billion dollars. There is an enormous amount of money out there that is available to startups and so there are more and more startups every day. Despite all money that is available to them, startups struggle and fail. Part of the reason is because there are companies like Ubers and Air BnBs and we get biased, because of the stories we hear about this great companies.
How can we work together to help startups be more successful?
The notion is that startups are superheroes. The people creating the startups are the people working the long hours and putting their heart and soul into that company. Despite all the personal effort, you will need a sidekick, a partner. The partner will be there when you need advice, support or mentorship. That is the role Microsoft has taken up.
In 2008 they started a program called BizSpark which is a great collection of capabilities that allows companies to get started and build their applications and start their business. Bizspark is a really easy to apply for. All you have to do is reach out and apply. What they then do is they enable startups with a whole bunch of software and the ability to run applications up on the server. It is a great way to get going and they kind of are working with you. If they notice that your startup is really taking off, they can upgrade it to BizSpark Plus. It is the largest offer in the industry. It is over 120 thousand dollars of free compute resources and even more software. It is a great way for people to start building their applications.
They also noticed that many of these startups came out of universities. So back in 2010 they started a program called ImagineCup. Here, they work with students from all over the world to create applications, coach them, do competitions and get them to really feel what it is like to do a startup. In fact, many of these little companies eventually turn into funded startups.
They then accelerated what they were doing by opening innovation centers all over the world. They created accelerators that Microsoft runs and third parties run. They partnered with companies like Y-Combinator to bring all this together under an umbrella they call Microsoft Ventures.
This is evidence that there is the much needed support out there for startups and if you keep looking, you will find adequate information that will lead you to the kind of investors or support that you need.